Wow. Numbers crunched by traffic and uptime firm Pingdom indicate that Facebook is absolutely crushing the rest of the social Web in terms of monthly page views. With about 260 billion page views, the sprawling social network's page view count is 11 times bigger than the second-place entry, News Corp.-owned MySpace. It's also 59 times higher than Twitter's, which comes in fourth. (Social network and gaming site Hi5 is third; Friendster, which was recently sold to a Malaysian tech company, is in fifth.)
These numbers are a testament to Facebook's phenomenal growth: remember, as late as June 2008, MySpace was still bigger than Facebook worldwide (and stayed bigger in the U.S. for several months more). And Facebook, at the time, was largely unsearchable and protected behind a log-in wall, keeping a damper on page views juiced by search engine optimization (SEO).
The catch with Twitter's placement here, it should be said, is that page views tend to be a very erroneous take on the microblogging service's actual reach, because so many of its users access it through third-party clients on both desktop and mobile devices, as well as through text messages.
In social news, Digg pulls in twice as many page views as Conde Nast-owned competitor Reddit (which is actually a smaller gap than I would have expected), and seven times as many as nerd-news hub Slashdot.
Here's what I find interesting: I wonder how much of this page view dominance on Facebook's part was achieved when Facebook got the SEO bump from letting users and brands' "fan pages" reserve unique URLs, hence making the Web address of an individual Facebook page much more search-result-friendly than a string of numbers. It's also potentially driving more traffic indirectly through Facebook Connect, which lets the users of 80,000 (and counting) third-party sites log in with their Facebook credentials--in effect, spreading the Facebook brand all over the Web.
Most importantly for page views, Facebook also has been gradually encouraging members to make more profile content public, starting with limited search-engine listings and then finally completely public personal profiles in accordance with a new set of privacy controls late last year.
TechCrunch writer Erick Schonfeld analyzed graphs from ComScore last summer that showed unique visitors to Facebook versus Twitter, and noted an uptick in Facebook's growth that coincided with the social network's introduction of an option to make individual pieces of shared content on profiles--status messages, links, videos, etc.--wholly public.
Some of these shifts in privacy policies haven't gone over so smoothly with privacy-conscious Facebook users. But if you look at traffic, the "opening up" has been a massive boon for the ad-revenue-reliant Facebook.